Succeeding in a crowded general & trauma surgery locums market

I thought I would jot down some of my thoughts in regards to how the locums market has been shaping up for general & trauma surgeons as well as some of the trends that I’m seeing and how a potential locums candidate might position themselves for success. Please keep in mind a lot of this is from my own vantage point as a locums recruiter, and is an assessment of the market in this specific specialty.

I started in this business nearly 5 years ago and at the time, locums work still had somewhat of a ‘stigma’ in certain circles, meaning there were people out there that though of locums as something that was for people who couldn’t find a job or people at the end of their careers. As I ramped up my business, I could sense that this was going to dramatically change and it certainly has. Demand for surgeons looking for locums work has skyrocketed in that time. When I first started working here, it wasn’t a rare occasion that our jobs would go unfilled or lack candidates to be presented. Now it seems that most jobs we open have 5-10 presentations within an hour or two, and the job can get closed down quickly as the client has enough candidates to choose from. On top of that, the addition of 1000’s of millennials to the workforce has changed the landscape with surgeons who don’t necessarily want to immediately be tied down for 3 years in a contract. But perhaps the most common reason I see for people wanting to do locums is for a better work-life balance and not being ‘just a number’ in a huge corporation.

There is another factor that is creating a crowded locums market and that is the ease of licensing and the roll out of the IMLC (compact license). As more and more surgeons start to do locums work, they collect additional licenses outside of their home state. Over time this has impacted the market by creating more surgeons available for locums work with a ‘license in hand’. Additionally, the compact license has started to break down the walls of licensing. It has now been 1 year since this was initiated, and I’ve had several surgeons qualify for this, and the process has made it easy and quick for surgeons to obtain additional licenses with participating states.

So how does a locums compete in this environment? Some things are easier to change than others, for example one can get additional licenses, but cannot make malpractice disappear. Here are 3 things that I’ve been coaching my providers on to stay relevant in a competitive locums market.

Responsiveness & readiness – Locums jobs move quickly these days and the ability to get you presented to a client as fast as possible is key. As mentioned above, often times I see a job open up and 5-10 candidates are presented within an hour or two. I like to be prepared and have a presentation built up ahead of time for the surgeons I actively work with, and can customize quickly to match relevant highlights with the job. Designate a path of communication ahead of time (text, call, email, pigeon) that will allow for a quick response if a hot job comes available. Make sure to have your Comphealth application completed and all supporting documents in before a job with a time crunch comes up. Occasionally jobs open up on short notice and a candidate who is already credentialed with us, or at least have your application in so that if we need to move quickly on credentialing we have a head start.

Networking – I can likely open the door for my surgeons to a new position, but one thing I coach my providers on is making a good impression and connecting with the staff or decision makers and letting them know about it if you are interested in returning. Another tool I use is to ask you about some of your connections in the health care community, it is a small world so to speak, and often times we have connections that you might have as well and if you know someone that has worked at a particular job, they may be able to pull some strings to get you the locums job.

Letters of Recommendation – I previously wrote a blog about the importance of letters of recommend several years ago and it is still relevant. Let your colleagues tell a client why they should bring you on instead of hearing it from me. This takes a little extra work but the rewards are exponential. Please visit my post “Set yourself apart with a letter of recommend”.

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